Inauthentic Culture and Its Philosophical Critics

Inauthentic Culture and Its Philosophical Critics

JAY NEWMAN
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt80v4t
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Inauthentic Culture and Its Philosophical Critics
    Book Description:

    Jay Newman first puts the contemporary problem of inauthentic culture into philosophical and historical context. He then goes on to show how traditional philosophical criticism of inauthentic culture can help us understand many disturbing aspects of such contemporary cultural phenomena as television and public relations, as well as contemporary forms of craftsmanship, democracy, and the academy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6694-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 INAUTHENTIC CULTURE AS A SOCIAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM
    (pp. 3-30)

    Inauthentic culture is a problem of which many reflective people have been at least vaguely aware, though they have not agreed on a name for it. They have sensed that there is something “phoney” about certain cultural products, about some of the many things that human beings, individually and in groups, create or promote with the intention that those things may be appropriated by their fellow human beings. The problem of inauthentic culture is generally not as well understood as such other social issues as violence, poverty, and bigotry and in that sense is harder to deal with. Substantial harm...

  5. 2 SOME ASPECTS OF CULTURE RELEVANT TO THE PROBLEM OF INAUTHENTICITY
    (pp. 31-51)

    In associating culture with products, I approach it from a specific perspective in order to clarify a particular social problem. The expression “cultural products” is rare in everyday language and is used here to explain complicated matters in a straightforward way, but it is not entirely satisfactory. I use the termproductto stand for a wide range of human creations. Praying in a church, completing a tax form, shaking someone’s hand, and having one’s hair styled all involve appropriation of things “produced” by human beings. Theories, modes of perception, services, and methods are also “produced” by human beings.

    But...

  6. 3 THE RELEVANCE TO AUTHENTICITY OF WHAT IS RELATIVE AND WHAT IS NOT
    (pp. 52-80)

    Perhaps the standards or criteria that we apply in ascribing inauthenticity are themselves arbitrary. Perhaps they are themselves simply cultural products that were initially appropriated by us in some basic form as a result of highly sophisticated parental or communal manipulation, or as a result of other features of our early social environment that had little to do with any sort of “objective” or “absolute” truth or goodness. Perhaps then our basic standards, criteria, values, and ideals are themselves inauthentic cultural products or, worse yet, inferior to other possible standards according to some higher-order standard, of which, owing to the...

  7. 4 PLATO AND THE CLASSICAL ANALYSIS OF INAUTHENTIC CULTURE
    (pp. 81-109)

    Nowhere is Plato more incisive than in his elaborate descriptions of phoney cultural products and the crooked characters who trade in them. We now consider various passages in theRepublic, which contains Plato’s main contributions to the systematic philosophy of culture, and then we look at the themes raised in these passages from a broader perspective.

    The first book of Plato’sRepublicis a Socratic exercise, and whereas in the later nine books the character of Socrates is used as the spokesman for Plato’s own constructive views, most of which the real Socrates is not likely to have endorsed, the...

  8. 5 THE CLASSICAL ANALYSIS REWORKED: FOUR STUDIES IN THE TRADITION
    (pp. 110-130)

    To understand Plato’s impact on Western civilization, one must consider among other things his influence on Christianity. Since much of Christian thought is imbued with Platonic inspiration, Platonic insights have been communicated, if imperfectly, to countless people with little interest in academic philosophy. Never was the Christian intellectual’s appropriation of Platonic modes of thinking more striking and more influential than in the writings of Augustine of Hippo. Though Augustine defends rhetoric in theDe Doctrina Christiana, his attack on corruptive rhetoric in theConfessionsis, after Plato’s, the most intense and most influential philosophical attack on such rhetoric.¹ Much of...

  9. 6 THE CLASSICAL ANALYSIS REWORKED: TWO RECENT STUDIES AND AN OVERVIEW
    (pp. 131-152)

    Inauthentic culture is not simply a philosophical problem, and it is most certainly not one that Plato “invented.” Plato’s criticism of inauthentic culture was a response to certain conditions that he saw as pervasive in his declining society. Later philosophers, and later theologians, scientists, and literary scholars, have confronted comparable problems, and not just because Platonic thought influenced them, consciously or unconsciously. And the social problem of inauthentic culture can be approached theologically or scientifically as well as philosophically. But cultural criticism, while it can be essentially theological rather than philosophical, can never be purely empirical-scientific, for empirical science as...

  10. 7 CONTEMPORARY APPLICATIONS
    (pp. 153-190)

    The basic aim of this inquiry has been to shed light on a social and philosophical issue that for want of an available label has been called here the problem of inauthentic culture. We began by considering it in a contemporary context. Chapter 1 demarcated the matter by considering the ordinary language that people use to express concern about the “phoney” quality of many cultural products of their society. With a working conception of the problem, we considered, in chapters 2 and 3, relevant issues in the philosophy of culture. Chapters 4-6 were given over largely to studies in the...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 191-210)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 211-218)